Finding God Through The Chains Of Pornography Addiction
By: Zeyad Ramadan, Founder of Imancipate and Director of the Purify Your Gaze Awareness Campaign. For more information, please visit: www.PurifyYourGaze.com
“I hate Allah. HE DOESN’T ANSWER ANY OF THE IMPORTANT PRAYERS. Only the insignificant ones. You’re gonna cause someone close to me to die or make me die in a humiliating way. I probably deserve it. I just want to get married. IF THAT’S NOT POSSIBLE, than I WISH I WAS IN MY GRAVE. HOW HARD IS EITHER OF THOSE FOR YOU? I THOUGHT YOU’RE CAPABLE OF EVERYTHING. I am SICK of being patient and waiting. WHAT THE HELL AM I WAITING FOR. I give up…”
A client that I worked with in my sexual addiction recovery program sent me this above journal entry. You can read these words and be shocked by how any individual, especially a Muslim can display such rage or anger at his Creator and Sustainer, or you can read much deeper into it as I did.
To me, what I see beneath the anger are bottled up emotions of deep hurt, despair in the Mercy of Allah, and feelings of being abandoned by Allah.
One of the obstacles in the journey of an individual undergoing addiction recovery is coming to terms with a “Higher Power” and ultimately what it means to be spiritual. The pornography, the drugs, the alcohol becomes something like a band-aid to take care of that huge void in that individual’s life, and ultimately becomes their number one need.
What is very common in the psychology of an addict is visualizing and believing God to be a menacing, punishing and sadistic God who finds joy in their ruin and is out to actively cause more pain in their life, as was evident in the short journal entry excerpt above.
This anger may even lead to a state of denial in the existence of a Higher Power but beneath that ultimately is a story.
How did this individual become addicted to pornography and how did this individual come to such a state where there are immense feelings of anger at God?
The majority of these stories and perceptions about God and the anger directed at God are many times a deeper anger at the primary relationship right after God, which is the relationship that individual has had with his or her parents. Anger is an emotion of power, commands respect and helps the individual to cope with a deeper pain.
A critical part of understanding the development of this “Monster God” mentality and the development of an addiction comes down to one thing: an inability to accept and love ones’ self.
At a young age, all children are dependent on their parents for food, nourishment, acceptance and love, and it is thus inconceivable to see something wrong with the primary caregivers. Especially when the authority of the parents in Islam is misused and taken a little too far to keep kids in check through fear, and then backed up with religious evidences.
So if God is perfect and must be obeyed, and He instructed for the parents to be obeyed and honored for their sacrifices, then any conflict that arises between the parents and child must be completely the child’s fault, not the parents.
To add on top of that, too often parents show love as a reward for a child “achieving” certain bench marks with grades, religious devotion, athletic achievement, etc.
Success in all of these areas is certainly a good thing, one that should be encouraged, BUT when LOVE is conditional and based on these achievements, that’s when the dysfunction starts and a “perfectionist” is created and fueled.
By the same token this is passed on to God. When God’s love is perceived as conditional and fully based on whether we reach a certain level of “righteousness”–that’s when this resentment and feelings of hurt develop.
The resentment of God develops out of this frustration that one can never be good enough or perfect leading to a rejection of self. When this rejection of self becomes too painful to handle, it externalizes itself into anger at the parents and ultimately anger at God because He was the one that gave this authority to the parents.
There is a lot of soul searching involved for anyone struggling with sexual addiction and genuinely wants to change to feel serenity rather than the agony of trying to satiate a quench that never ends.
What we need to keep in mind is having a heart of compassion for anyone in this situation and allow them the space to find themselves and to find God. It is a painful separation to depart from something that has brought you comfort even at a minimal level for so many years and let go of this false god so they may devote themselves in true sincerity to the One True God.
In this journey, there is confusion, there is fear and there is despair. If I cannot find comfort in my addiction anymore, will I ever find comfort? Which is why we see this anger directed at God here because ultimately deep down it is the fear that not even God will accept them for who they are and what they have gone through.
Based on my research and interaction with individuals who have begun recovery work, one of the greatest joys is being able to look back and actually thank Allah for this huge blessing in disguise and to see how Allah was there all along and had never abandoned them, and how this addiction was the best thing that ever happened to them.
Finding God through the chains of pornography addiction is a blessing in disguise for those who begin this journey.
The Prophet peace be upon him said, “Allah wonders at those people who will enter Paradise in chains.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
When we read this hadith, we primarily see it in the context of war referring to those captives who surrender their will to Allah by choice, and become righteous Muslims in their lifetime. Sometimes though this war is internal, and we are brought back to Allah as captives through the chains of our desires, and it is there we are blessed to taste humility leading us to surrender our wills to the One True God.
The biggest obstacle for an addict is to get help, they would rather solve it alone to stay safe. Moreover when the addict is Muslim and is struggling with something as sensitive as pornography it makes the obstacle even greater.
A client of mine told me that in order for him to get better he felt that he had to leave the Muslim community to find a place of acceptance and a place of healing. He could be accepted as an addict and be unconditionally loved, but no matter how hard he tried he could never be recognized and accepted as a Muslim by them.
I’ve began a community on Facebook of what I hope to be like minded individuals that would like for any Muslim in any situation to flee to the mosque and flee to the community when they have a problem. Pornography addiction, whether we want to admit it or not is one of the challenges we are facing in our communities, and not talking about will not make the matter go away. If you would like to join our community, I invite you to visit: http://www.facebook.com/PurifyYourGaze
I ask for the community’s support and encourage those who are interested in learning about my newest initiative which will be launched this month of Novemberr on the realities of pornography addiction in the Muslim community which I’ve called “Purify Your Gaze” (www.PurifyYourGaze.com) based on the Qur’anic injunction telling the believers to lower their gaze in order to attain purity to visit our website.
And from Allah comes all success.